Luke 11:29-54

29 When the crowds were increasing, he began to say, “This generation is an evil generation. It seeks for a sign, but no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah. 30 For as Jonah became a sign to the people of Nineveh, so will the Son of Man be to this generation. 31 The queen of the South will rise up at the judgment with the men of this generation and condemn them, for she came from the ends of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon, and behold, something greater than Solomon is here. 32 The men of Nineveh will rise up at the judgment with this generation and condemn it, for they repented at the preaching of Jonah, and behold, something greater than Jonah is here.

33 “No one after lighting a lamp puts it in a cellar or under a basket, but on a stand, so that those who enter may see the light. 34 Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eye is healthy, your whole body is full of light, but when it is bad, your body is full of darkness. 35 Therefore be careful lest the light in you be darkness. 36 If then your whole body is full of light, having no part dark, it will be wholly bright, as when a lamp with its rays gives you light.”

37 While Jesus was speaking, a Pharisee asked him to dine with him, so he went in and reclined at table. 38 The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner. 39 And the Lord said to him, “Now you Pharisees cleanse the outside of the cup and of the dish, but inside you are full of greed and wickedness. 40 You fools! Did not he who made the outside make the inside also? 41 But give as alms those things that are within, and behold, everything is clean for you.

42 “But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and every herb, and neglect justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done, without neglecting the others. 43 Woe to you Pharisees! For you love the best seat in the synagogues and greetings in the marketplaces. 44 Woe to you! For you are like unmarked graves, and people walk over them without knowing it.”

45 One of the lawyers answered him, “Teacher, in saying these things you insult us also.” 46 And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers. 47 Woe to you! For you build the tombs of the prophets whom your fathers killed. 48 So you are witnesses and you consent to the deeds of your fathers, for they killed them, and you build their tombs. 49 Therefore also the Wisdom of God said, ‘I will send them prophets and apostles, some of whom they will kill and persecute,’ 50 so that the blood of all the prophets, shed from the foundation of the world, may be charged against this generation, 51 from the blood of Abel to the blood of Zechariah, who perished between the altar and the sanctuary. Yes, I tell you, it will be required of this generation. 52 Woe to you lawyers! For you have taken away the key of knowledge. You did not enter yourselves, and you hindered those who were entering.”

53 As he went away from there, the scribes and the Pharisees began to press him hard and to provoke him to speak about many things, 54 lying in wait for him, to catch him in something he might say.

Luke 11:38 says “The Pharisee was astonished to see that he did not first wash before dinner.” And Luke 11:46 says “And he said, “Woe to you lawyers also! For you load people with burdens hard to bear, and you yourselves do not touch the burdens with one of your fingers.” In Jewish custom, washing before a meal was an extra-biblical command (not in the Mosaic Law), and something the Pharisees imposed as an extra burden and weight. Their purpose? To redefine cleanness, to burden people with the law, and to exalt themselves. Their greatest sense of worth came from their own glory before men. 

We too are to be careful that we not redefine what it means to be “cleansed” before Christ. The blood that washes my back and your back is the same blood that washes the back of repentant sinners throughout history and across the world and in our very church— irrespective of their past sin and brokenness. All who are unworthy and unclean are called to come to the cross, repent before the presence of God, and find that He is generous in mercy and lavish in favor to commune with His creation. 

Do we add extra-biblical works-based burdens onto people? Do we neglect God's justice and God's steadfast love? “How dare he raise his hands during praise—after what he said to me last night?” “How dare she come so freely—after what she did last night?” When we come before the holy presence of God, when we gaze upon His glory and His beauty, we don’t look around at others, we look upward (to God) and inward (trembling at our own sin and all our other preferences apart from God Himself).

Posted by Robert Han on 12/20/2016


This is a humbling lesson. I am no greater. Period. Who am I to say that [insert statement here] when God is greater? Jesus brings is all into perspective. Washing hands before a meal, to me, is simply sanitary; however, to the Pharisees, it was just another opportunity to be reminded about who they were. They were Pharisees. they were keepers of law and tradition. Clearly, it was all about them. Their hardened hearts would never be able to accept Jesus' teachings because there was so much at stake. They would literally have to give up their comfortable lifestyle and authority. In the end, who are they? They are mere mortals and do not come close to God's glory. Who are they to build up their own glory, and what is their glory actually worth? Not much.

Diana Lim on 12/21/2016 at 9:00 AM